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IGS Wins FDA Funds to Sequence Pathogens, Create Database for Use in New Dx Development

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine has received a $1.4 million contract from the US Food and Drug Administration to sequence, assemble, and annotate a population of bacterial pathogens.

The goal of the two-year project is to generate draft sequence data that other researchers will be able to use to develop and assess new high-throughput sequencing-based in vitro diagnostics for identifying pathogens, the University of Maryland Medical Center said today.

Under the contract, investigators at the IGS Genomics Resource Center will use high-throughput sequencing instruments from Illumina and Pacific Biosciences and a number of genome assembly software packages, and will deposit their draft sequence data into a public reference database.

Using two complementary sequencing platforms will enable the GRC researchers to cross-validate consensus sequences and provide "the highest possible sequence accuracy," IGS said.

IGS said that continued development of high-throughput screening technologies for identifying microorganisms "will have significant impact on human healthcare, biothreat response, food safety, and other areas."

The database will be accessible through the National Center for Biotechnology Information's public domain databases.

The GRC is headed by Scientific Director Luke Tallon and Administrative Director Lisa Sadzewicz, and they are serving as co-investigators on the project.

"Our project, specifically, will help to expand the growing database of high-quality, curated microbial genome sequences and associated metadata for a database that will be used as a reference for the evaluation and assessment of new sequencing-based diagnostic tests and devices," Sadzewicz told GenomeWeb Daily News in an e-mail today.

She said the list of microbes they plan to sequence is still being put together, but that it will have "significant representation" from the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases list of priority pathogens.